More events go cashless

The trend for cashless events is spreading across a range of areas across Europe, including sporting competitions, music festivals and food and drink pop-up events and fairs, according to SIX Payment Services.

SIX, which operates the infrastructure for Switzerland’s financial sector, reports that its payment services arm is helping various events across Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands eliminate the use of cash this year despite logistical challenges.

“As the popularity for such events has grown, so too has their size and professionalism,” says the group. “Both event organizers and exhibitors are realising the importance of providing smooth and efficient services to their customers, and offering cashless capabilities is a key part of this.”

SIX reports that while the logistics at some venues, such as the Boomtown 2017 alt-music festival last month in Ghent, Belgium, proved relatively straightforward, others pose a range of challenges. One example was the ‘Nova Rock Festival’, which took place in June and is held in a very rural location in Austria, requiring miles of cables to achieve a reliable internet connection.

Most of the events are held in temporary locations, which adds an additional time factor when installing and taking down our terminals and top-up stations. “No two events are the same and each element is considered carefully to plan for all situations,” adds SIX. “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all.”

The Boomtown festival has introduced the BoomPas, a pre-charged swipe card that for purchasing drinks and food at the event and on which refunds can be given for unused amounts if the card is registered at the time of purchase. A further option used at some other events is the radio frequency identification (RFID) wristband, which users tap into a point of sale (PoS) system when making payment.

The group adds that the notion of a cashless festival initially met encountered opposition, but with more and even larger showcases in recent years “cashless seems to become state of the art” with an increasing number of events going cashless as a way to boost customer experience and increase efficiencies.

“The number and size of events we support and enable to go cashless has grown substantially,” says Thomas Grabner, managing director of SIX Payment Services in Austria. “From music festivals to motor racing, we are able to provide and service their individual needs which are sometimes very different.

“As well as equipping the area with a secure internet connection, we also ensure our terminals will function in all environments and temperatures – from -20C to over 45C.”

Six reports that it has tripled the number of events for which it has provided cashless payments solutions over the past three years and plans to continue to expand cashless proposition in the future.

“Cashless transactions are typically much faster than cash purchases, meaning that queues are reduced and fewer staff required, saving the event organisers additional costs,” it adds. “Cashless events also eliminate the need for additional security required to handle and store cash.”

Edward Berks, director of financial web and ecosystem at software provider Xero, adds: “Payment for services is transforming fast thanks to innovation in cloud technology and payment solutions for ecommerce, mobile and peer to peer, and the potential for cashless society is certainly on the horizon.

“A recent government report suggested that the UK should phase out cash payments in order to help the self-employed be more tax compliant, and start-ups such as Indian mobile wallet company MobiKwik are expecting the transition to a cashless society to be imminent.

With the Indian government introducing a number of measures to discourage cash use, including reducing the daily limit individuals can withdraw from ATMs, they’ve essentially incentivised mobile payment.”

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